What May Happen If You Use Essential Oils Too Often

2 years ago

Essential oils are touted as a remedy for all kinds of things: from skin issues to mental health problems. Yet these oils aren’t as harmless as they seem. They might smell nice, but their marketing highly oversells their benefits while downplaying the bad parts. Which are, in fact, pretty negative.

Bright Side advocates for wellness without risks and wants to keep you informed about the dangers lurking behind beauty routines. Don’t forget to check the bonus section, we discuss the steps that can help you deal with essential oils in a more safe way there.

1. Poisoning

Studies show thousands of incidents of essential oil poisoning in past years and more than half of them included children. Toxicity spreads rapidly, and it only requires a tiny amount of oil to create a life-threatening situation. It can lead to vomiting, lung injuries, and central nervous system depression. The worst offender is eucalyptus oil, a few drops of which can result in nausea, stomach pains, and convulsions.

While 80% of cases were accidental, because the oils were mistaken for liquid medicine, like cough syrup, there were still a number of people who took essential oils orally due to misinformation.

2. Sun-sensitivity

Some essential oils are photosensitizers, which means they increase the skin’s vulnerability to sunlight. It includes the citric oils and the biggest culprit — bergamot oil. Many citrus fruits contain a compound called furocoumarin, which can cause chemical burns when exposed to sunlight. In the most severe cases, even a few minutes under the sun’s rays can result in blisters and welts.

And hey, plants produce the furanocoumarin as a defense against animals, insects, and fungi. Perhaps, we’re not welcome either.

3. Skin problems

The range of essential oil-induced skin issues varies from minor irritations to full-on allergies, like for example, dermatitis. Allergic reactions lead to hives, rashes, itching, and burning. The skin itself can also turn dry, scaly, and start to crack.

It’s an especially bad idea to use oils on damaged skin since it absorbs more oil and its reaction may be unexpected and unpleasant. And you should never use undiluted oil: it can be downright dangerous to your skin!

4. Pregnancy risks

Some essential oils contain additives and impurities that may be harmful to pregnant women. Their infamous sensitivity to smells and tastes can result in nasty side effects of essential oil use, like nausea, headache, vomiting, and vertigo.

Even the oils applied on the skin can seep into the placenta and affect the baby. In the worst-case scenario, the pregnancy could end in miscarriage.

5. Allergies

Skin issues aside, allergic reactions to essential oils might affect the eyes and respiratory system. So, your experience with aromatic oils can cause sneezing, runny nose, and congestion.

Sometimes the allergy gets worse: which means you need to see a doctor as soon as possible.

Bonus: Oils aren’t all that bad.

In the end, being essential doesn’t make these oils important or necessary for us. The problem isn’t how dangerous they can be, but how they’re marketed. Much of the hype around the oils springs from the fact that they are natural products, and, therefore, cannot be harmful. Which is untrue, at best.

If we divorce the hype and branding from reality, we can see that essential oils are neither a “cure-all” good thing nor a “scary dangerous” bad thing. Some oils do have anti-parasitic and antiseptic properties, can aid with hair issues, and their soothing scents helps relieve stress. Yet, when misused, they might lead to all the things we discussed above.

So the best you can do is:

  • Consult your doctor before using the oils.
  • Watch how your body reacts to them.
  • Test a small amount of oil on your arm or leg. This way you can check and see if you have an allergy.
  • Don’t overuse them.
  • Don’t be afraid to try them.

Do you use any essential oils? Which ones? Have you noticed whether it helped you or, on the contrary, that it had a negative effect?


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